We know the Blues and Jazz are getting short shrift in the mainstream miasma that is Popular Music today — Billboard.com can’t even be bothered to get proper album cover art for their Blues and Jazz charts! — and now we have breaking news that Latin Jazz musicians are suing the Grammy Awards! Here’s how the Guardian reports the mauling news:
Latin jazz musicians are going to fight for their right to be nominated for a Grammy. A group of musicians are suing the US National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, lobbying for the reinstatement of several Grammy award categories that were cut in an April restructuring. “[The Academy] shouldn’t have done this,” warned attorney Roger Maldonado. The Academy isn’t amused: “This frivolous lawsuit is without merit,” they replied, “and we fully expect to prevail.”
It’s been four months since the Grammys announced their biggest overhaul in years, streamlining 109 award categories to just 78. Gone are the individual prizes for classical, zydeco and Native American music albums, and Latin music has been cut from eight awards to four. Instead of jockeying for the year’s best Latin jazz album, for instance, these artists must now compete against Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis and the heavy hitters of the broader jazz categories. These alterations are “irresponsible,” Carlos Santana declared in a statement, while Paul Simon called the restructuring “a disservice to many talented musicians.”
We wholly stand with Carlos Santana on the righteous side of the these disaffected artists who have now been told by the Grammys that their music is too specific and must be mottled and mainstreamed to match modern music tastes. By combining genres, the Grammys are allowing the big music distribution labels and already popular musicians to dominate categories. That’s good for the immediate bottom line, but that is terrible business for ensuring an interesting musical future. The Grammys should become more diverse, not less interesting, and more remote, and largely esoteric.
There is no doubt the world is on a steady decline of dumbing down what used to be precious and distinctive and this musical affront by the Grammys against its most interesting musical geniuses is confounding and stupefying. We can change this by contacting the Grammys and telling them precisely how we feel as purchasers of what is now, thanks to them, a dying Art genre.